The Alternative National Congress (ANC) has missed yet another executive meeting of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) -- meant to address the internal crisis in the opposition political group.
The meeting was held on October 29, 2021.
Of late, the CPP has been going through a serious internal crisis, capsizing its unified position as a serious alternative to the ruling party the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
However, in a bid to heal the wounds, former Vice President Joseph Boakai, who currently heads the CPP as its chair, called for the CPP's National Advisory Council (NAC) meeting to discuss issues relating to the strengthening of the opposition group and finding an amicable resolution to the framework document, which was alleged to have been tetamperedith by the ANC.
The scheduled meeting was attended by the political leaders of the Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party, along with other members of the NAC, "from those two constituent parties and the Unity Party."
"Regrettably, there was absolutely no representation from the ANC at the NAC meeting," the CPP Secretariat said in a release. "In keeping with the rules governing meetings of the CPP, every party must have at least a representation at every called meeting of the NAC and any other governing structure of the CPP."
"Consequently, cardinal issues relating to the strengthening of the CPP and decision about the amicable resolution of issues of the framework document could not be discussed. It is hoped that the ANC will be fully represented at the next meeting of the NAC and other governing structures of the CPP," the release added.
The NAC meeting, which was Boakai's first as CPP chair, bore the urgency to begin negotiations to unite the CPP, which has been burdened by internal disagreements.
Yet, the latest snub from the ANC shows that the crisis-prone CPP, despite calls from its broad coalition of voters to demonstrate wisdom and leadership in tackling major problems, is far from achieving unity as things stand.
The former Vice President, who now heads the CPP for 8 months, is widely expected to use his age and sage to address acute differences between the ANC's Cummings and his accuser, Benoi Urey of the ALP, that has escalated to threaten the survival of the CPP on the one hand; and on the other hand, the internal wrangling within the Liberty Party, whose political leaders and national chairman are fiercely at loggerheads.
But the ANC, which feels it was wrongly accused of tampering with and altering the CPCPPramework document, is not willing to concede an apology as demanded by the other parties. Rather, the ANC has demanded that the CPP be the one to apologize to the ANC for false accusations
And as long the trading of accusations persists, the ANC appears ready to wage political war both from within and from without.
The ANC has consistently justified its numerous absences from CPP activities, citing prproceduralrrors and constitutional violations of the CPP framework document.
Notable among these is the ANC's absence from the ceremony in which the helm of the CPP was turned over from the Liberty Party to the Unity Party.
The ANC, at that time, said its decision bordered on its exclusion from the planning of the turnover ceremony, contrary to the practices of the CPP, saying “We can no longer continue to tolerate a systematic pattern of conduct that willfully violates the established practices in the CPP."
The party action is the first time in the history of the collaboration for political leaders of a constituting party to not attend a transitional event, a strong signal of how deeply divided the CPP had become.
The ANC, explaining its absence from the October 29 meeting, again cites procedure errors on the part of the CPP current leadership, head by Mr. Boakai.
According to the ANC, they were informed a couple of days before the meeting but requested an agenda, which was sent on the day of the meeting -- making it difficult to prepare their position for the meeting.
"So they knew ahead of time that a meeting would not be held if the ANC is not present. Why still convene a meeting just to make the ANC look recalcitrant? This was all staged," the ANC told the Daily Observer in a WhatsApp interview.
The ANC's Standard Bearer, Alexander B. Cummings, in a letter to his colleagues wrote that his party was missing the meeting due to the late arrival of the meeting agenda.
The letter added that the agenda came too late, which was on the day of the meeting -- denying them the opportunity to not just consider the proposed agenda, but toso formulate a position.
"Also, to fully formulate a position, we request a copy of the letter sent to the lawyers which will provide us the context for the lawyers' response. May It, therefore, propose a rescheduling of the NAC Meeting for Wednesday of next week," Cummings letter said.
He added: "Let me also note that we need to settle the [Framework Agreement] issue prbeforeiscussion on any other topic and I’m not sure how again discussing the Investigations committee report does that."
CPP Crisis in Brief
The CPP, which dominated the December 2020 midterm senatorial elections, has been in crisis ever since the All Liberian Party political leader, Urey, accused Cummings of illegally altering the structure and content of the group's framework document.
Since then, surrogates from the UP, LP, ALP a, and ANC have been at war over the issue, going to the extent of sulting leaders of the CPP and saying things that might haunt them tomorrow.
The situation turned worse after the recent former Chair of the CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, disclosed that an investigative committee report directly accused Cummings of illegally modifying the CPP framework during his tenure as chair.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence claimed that the infractions, procedural transgressions, and fraudulent inclines, as captured in its investigative findings, transpired "under and during the leadership of the ANC and its political leader Cummings."
"In light of the violations in procedures and content change, it is reasonable enough that Mr. Cummings summons the courage to take ownership of all that has transpired and the crisis thereof," Senator Karnga-Lawrence argued.
But long before the release of the investigation report, Boakai, and Urey, threaded on a similar path, directly accusing Cummings of tampering with the framework document.
But the ANC denied the accusations, rebuking their accusers for such a ‘besmearing, coordinated and vicious attack’.
The ANC then accused Sen. Karnga-Lawrence of intentionally and maliciously hosting a press conference wi receive the Liberian people by reading selective parts of the contested findings as to the basis for claiming that they, the ANC, should take responsibility for alterations of the Framework Document, thus unleashing the public onslaught.
For the ANC, the allegation against them comes as a result of the party's disapproval to agree with their colleagues in the CPP to give former Vice President Boakai and his Unity Party the chance to head the collaboration's presidential ticket and settle for Vice, before taking over the Presidency at the end of Boakai’s first term.
The party entrenched its position when lawyers of the CPP, led by former Justice Minister, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh confirmed their (lawyers’) role in altering the structure and content of the CPP framework document, an accusation leveled against ANC and its leader, Cummings.
The lawyers, however, did not state whether the document they altered is the same as the one Cummings and ANC have been accused of “illegally modifying” while filing it at the National Elections Commission.
They declined to share their expert opinion when asked by the former chair of the Collaborating Political Parties, Sen. Karnga-Lawrence.
And once the lawyers' letter was made public, the ANC started gloating – demanding that Cummings' colleagues in the CPP openly apologize to him before any attempt at reconciliation.
The ANC argued that they aligned their political leader character, and integrity and did not move on without an apology.
The CPP, made up of four political parties, has a rotating leadership mandate, which the political leader of each member institution chairs for 8 months at a time. The four parties are, the Liberty Party, Unity Party, the Alternative National Congress, and the All Liberian Party.